Is it possible for someone to have bad luck? My grandmother used to say about such people that they have "no mazel." I am a college graduate, a learned man, but cannot seem to make any money.


The word "mazel" is derived from the Hebrew verb "nozel" which means to flow. Mazel is the energy which flows to us from Above, and thus we often wish each other "mazel tov," which really means, "may you have a flow of positive energy."

Mazel affects every area in life. One person has mazel with his children, one has mazel in his looks, one has mazel when it comes to health, one when it comes to making money. One person has mazel with her friends, one with parents-in-law, one with great spouses for their children. One has mazel in his job, one has mazel with his bosses, one in making investments. One has mazel with her plants (a "green thumb") and one with scrabble. The list is endless.

So I'd like to make two points:

1) As you can see, mazel affects innumerable areas in a person's life. A person can have bad mazel in a specific area—but great mazel in many others. If someone has great mazel when it comes to making money, but no mazel at all with children, spouse, health, etc.—would you say he is a truly fortunate person, just because he is financially successful? What about a brilliant person in an unhappy marriage? The friendless millionaire? You write that you don't have good mazel financially—but do you have mazel in other areas of life? Nobody has good mazel in everything! And mazel with money is of far less importance than mazel in many other areas in life.

2) Mazel does not occur in a vacuum. We believe that every year on Rosh Hashanah it is decreed in Heaven what a person will earn during the coming year. That doesn't mean that a person can sit with folded hands a whole year, and say, "well, I don't have to do anything, whatever is decreed for me will just come to me." A check will not come flying in through the window. A person must make a "vessel" for the mazel, for G‑d's blessing. The vessel is hard (and honest) work, and prayer that the efforts be blessed from Above. Similarly, we pray that we should have good mazel with our children, while simultaneously working hard to be good parents and directing them in the proper way.

So instead of focusing on the presence or absence of mazel in your life, focus on doing whatever is in your ability to make a living. Make sure to pray properly three times a day to G‑d—the source of all wealth; and give charity to the best of your ability, because that is the best vehicle for financial mazel. And then stop worrying, because our livelihood is in G‑d's hands.